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The Economic Perspective 02/09/2024

The Latest Trending Economic, Environmental and Demographic News Curated for You By The Balmoral Group

The Balmoral Group provides practical, professional and precise Economics, Data Analytics, and Engineering Consulting services and is part of a globally integrated team.

Happy Friday!

This week’s edition of the Economic Perspective features articles on a variety of topics from the unprecedented growth in solar energy to the rare earthquakes reported off the east coast of Florida. Interestingly, this upcoming weekend, millions of football fans across the country will gather to cheer for their favorite teams at the Super Bowl Sunday. Our data visualization shows that this important sporting event attracts massive consumer spending every year. 

We hope you enjoy the read and let us know what you think! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you’d like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!


U.S. Construction Industry Gains 11,000 Jobs in January

Although 11,000 new workers joined the U.S. construction industry in January, and construction employment is up 2.7% year-over-year, there is still a shortage of workers despite continued wage increases according to the Associated General Contractors of America. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that average hourly earnings for construction production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5.3% in 2023 to $35.21 an hour. Compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees, construction wages were about 19% higher in December 2023. Read more here.

Carbon Removal Startup Grassroots Carbon Signs Deal with Microsoft 

Last week, Microsoft signed an agreement with Texas-based company Grassroots Carbon, the first grasslands soil carbon crediting program in the United States, to provide the tech giant with high quality soil carbon drawdown credits. Grassroots Carbon works with carbon credit buyers and arranges measurement and certification for carbon credit investment, which directly supports ranchers implementing regenerative land management practices. This agreement represents Microsoft’s first investment in carbon credits generated from regeneratively managed grasslands, and is part of the company’s initiative to become carbon negative by 2030, and to remove all of its historical emissions by 2050. ESG Today

Solar Energy Sees ‘Unprecedented Demand Growth’ 

Netracker, a company working in solar energy, has seen massive growth with stock rising past Wall Street projections, and demand continuing to increase. While home solar panels have taken a loss due to rising interest rates and home prices data centers have driven the increased need for solar power. Solar is expected to see 26% compound annual growth over the next five years. Additionally, solar per megawatt cost is about 56% cheaper than nuclear and gas helping contribute to the desire for people to switch over. Read More.

Migratory Birds and Capital Return

Conservation is key to financial innovation. Climate change and its impact on biodiversity cannot be underestimated. Billions of birds have died in the Western Hemisphere since 1970, and the pace of responses from public and private institutions has been slower. As more resources are channeled towards biodiversity, the investment gap still remains. A recent report by the State of Financing for Nature, indicated $200 billion was lost in 2022 in nature-based solutions, but finance flows to activities directly impacting nature were 30 times larger. Birds play a unique role in mobilizing resources for conservation as evidenced by their migratory routes, which have provided us with the tools to effectively identify geographic hotspots for biodiversity and strategic areas for structured investment. Read more here.

Toxins Persist in Indian River Lagoon Beyond Algae Blooms

A study by Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute reveals persistent toxins in the Indian River Lagoon, even without visible algae blooms. Over three years, researchers collected water samples from 20 sites, finding varying toxicity levels. During blooms, the northern lagoon showed less toxicity than the south, but even in the absence of blooms, sites in Banana River and the southern lagoon exhibited higher toxicity. The study aimed to identify unrecognized toxins linked to harmful algal blooms, highlighting potential health risks to humans and animals even when algal blooms are inactive. The method used could enhance monitoring of emerging toxins' impacts on human health. Read more here.

NASA to Collect Florida Environmental Data 

NASA launched its PACE spacecraft this week as part of its most advanced ocean-color-detecting mission to date. This is the first mission of its kind that will collect information on numerous environmental indicators in Florida’s waters. NASA representatives report that this information will help detect and predict algal blooms, assess the health of seagrass beds and the state of coral reef bleaching, and even improve hurricane forecasting by detecting dust blowing westward from the Sahara Desert. The data collected will be open-source and available to the public as a way to monitor ocean health and improve understanding of environmental processes in Florida and globally. Read more here.

Florida Earthquake

A very rare earthquake off the east coast of Florida was felt by residents roughly around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday night. The earthquake occurred approximately 100 miles off Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean and 80 reports to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from residents within Merritt Island, Melbourne, Satellite Beach, and other nearby cities were cited experiencing it. The magnitude was reported as a 4.0 on the scale, signaling a relatively weak earthquake. Earthquakes in-and-around Florida are extremely rare marking this event as one for the ages and has sparked curiosity by researchers and the community. The most recent notable earthquake Floridians have experienced was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in 2006 within the Gulf. Read more about it here.

Data Visualization of the Week

Super Bowl Spending Still Recovering

Super Bowl Sunday is this upcoming weekend and is an important event on American calendars with an estimated 200.5 million adults planning to watch the big game. The National Retail Federation (NRF) released its forecast for the sporting event estimating an average of $86.04 per household. The trend, when adjusted for inflation, is far below pre-pandemic levels as cost of living weighs on consumers. Before the inflation adjustment, the NRF forecast a new record $17.3 billion in Super Bowl-related spending this year, however the number is still well below the inflation-adjusted $20.5 billion from 2020 ($17.2 billion in 2020 dollars). Statista


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